Columns » Editorials

Untouchable

comment

India's famous sacred cows are roughly handled compared to the reverential treatment given the Chamber of Commerce in this country. The CofC casually walks on the interests of the American majority to win further privilege for the already privileged, in the form of tax breaks, government handouts, and anti-labor laws, and not only is it not called to account for its misdeeds, it's allowed to extract subsidies from its victims. That is the case in Central Arkansas, where the governing bodies of both Little Rock and North Little Rock hand over taxpayers' money to Chamber of Commerce affiliates that refuse to account for it, other than with vague talk of "economic development." The secrecy is condoned by mayors and aldermen, timid or indifferent or worse. It's only through other sources, often the news media, that the public learns when the Chamber is using public money to help keep wages low, or to block environmental-protection regulation.

Patience exhausted, a small group of rebels has now filed suit, asking Pulaski Circuit Court to declare illegal the payments made by Little Rock and North Little Rock to the Chamber and its subsidiaries. One of the plaintiffs, Jim Lynch, has said: "This is an issue of just handing over to a private corporation our public money, and then we have no idea what that money goes for; it's in a big black hole because the Chamber refuses to be transparent."

The Chamber shouldn't solicit these donations, and city officials shouldn't make them, but both have refused to stop. This is what the courts are for.

Add a comment

Clicky